Sometimes the river of words dries up, even for the most experienced authors. This used to be my default mode. It’s the very reason I have a tote full of partially written stories. I’d start the novel, thousands of words would pour out, then they trickled before turning into a drip that found my fingers hovering over the keyboard trying to figure out what to write. The rule to follow to combat writer’s block is:
Not many of us are fortunate enough to write full time. (Oh how I wish I were one of the lucky ones. Maybe someday.) As I mentioned in my Just Write post my plate is full. I have family and friends that demand time. I have a small craft business because I can’t stay away from crafting any more than I can stay away from storytelling, believe me, I’ve tried. There’s also the EDJ (evil day job) which is only evil because it takes up the bulk of my day and keeps me from writing (but it keeps the bills paid so...).
With all the balls I’m juggling how do I keep them all in the air? Simple.
I’m not the only writer in the family. I have not one, not two, but three cousins that have also published. My sister has jumped on the bandwagon too and is in the midst of writing to someday publish. As you can imagine when I talk to my sister the conversation often turns to writing. Since she’s still in the getting to a completed manuscript phase, she often asks me about my process. I share my techniques and encourage her to find what works for her. As she is one of my biggest cheerleaders she often says I should teach a class on it. Well, that’s not going to happen because who has that sort of time? Between my EDJ (evil day job), two children, a husband, writing, and various craft projects I surely don’t. What I do have time for is to post a few tips every now and then for aspiring authors.
For me starting a story is like starting a lawn mower. First I squeeze the lever up to the handle, then I pull the cord once, twice, sometimes thrice, before I hear the engine catch. Then I'm good to go until the grass is at least half cut, or I have to stop to pick up a fallen branch or abandoned tow and then I have to restart the engine. It takes me more than three tries to start a story.
That whole captivate the reader from the start philosophy gets in my head. I start trying to second guess what readers want and stop just writing the story. To keep my self-editor mute, I sometimes won't write those opening lines until after I've completed the rough draft. My internal editor turns on when I worry too much about if those first pages pull the reader in. I can't write with her on. Each word becomes a laborious choice, taking hours to write a paragraph. I'll write one sentence fifty different ways instead of fifty different sentences.
I think of this as the movie making approach to writing. When a movie is being filmed, it's not done in order. All scenes for a particular location or actors with small roles are shot at around the same time, regardless of its place in the plot.
I don't have to deal with actors or locations, but I do have to deal with words and sometimes the words are flowing better for one part of the story than whatever is the next chronological part. I start writing which ever scene I know the most about, even if it's the end. I sometimes start at the end. I skip to which ever scene captivates me at the moment. This method often leaves holes in the roughest draft, but I fill them in during the revision process.
This is my method that allows me to get from the once upon a time to the they lived happily ever after. I have so many collections of incomplete stories from before I started writing this way. If I got stuck I would continue to try to write the next chapter until I got discouraged and put the work on the back burner then eventually into a box.
Getting the words on the page is more important than getting them on the page in order. Just keep writing!